THE ALGONQUIN HARBINGER

Why I’ve chosen to enlist

Senior Tony Massaglia has enlisted in the Army and will head to basic training in Oklahoma in June 2019. This is the speech he gave at Algonquin’s Veterans Day assembly on November 9.

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Why I’ve chosen to enlist

Senior Tony Massaglia speaks about his decision to join the Army at the Veterans Day Assembly on November 9.

Senior Tony Massaglia speaks about his decision to join the Army at the Veterans Day Assembly on November 9.

Photo Olivia Battles

Senior Tony Massaglia speaks about his decision to join the Army at the Veterans Day Assembly on November 9.

Photo Olivia Battles

Photo Olivia Battles

Senior Tony Massaglia speaks about his decision to join the Army at the Veterans Day Assembly on November 9.

Tony Massaglia, Staff Writer

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Good morning everyone. Like Allan said, I have recently enlisted in the United States Army. This decision I have made has lead to many questions as to why this is the path I have chosen to follow. To plead a proper response to this question, I can not give one simple answer, for there are many reasons. In order to answer this question accurately, I must go back to the beginning, back when I was a young boy who did not yet know the true meaning of the word “patriotism,” nor did I understand the evils that plague mankind.

What I had then was not the perception of the real world; instead I had the insight gifted from my grandfather, who was a field medic in Vietnam. For every story he told me, the more I learned of the sacrifices he made for those who knew him only as a stranger, and for each of the stories he had told me, the more I felt inclined to follow his path of true American valor. It was because of this early influence I had finally learned the true definition of patriotism: the word is defined “vigorous love and support for one’s country.” It is ironic in terms of the timing that I had learned this definition, because it was not soon after that I had been exposed to what evil truly looks like.

For the first time in my life, I had witnessed the terrors of 9/11. To this day, I still get the chills every time I see those planes crash into the towers, or the dirt of Pennsylvania, or the Pentagon, but for the first time I saw this, I can only watch in awe. The History Channel documentary I was watching then shifted its focus to the carnage that followed the collapse of the towers. I expected to see sadness and confusion amongst the citizens and officials, but to my surprise I observed much more than that. I saw not sadness nor did I see confusion, but instead I witnessed unity, men and women working together in harmony as they dug through the rubble of what was the towers, risking their own health for the well being of others; setting aside their differences, they worked as one American body.  And at the end of pain and mourning, a flag was raised on the rubble to remind the entirety of the world that America and its people will not falter after a sucker-punch, but instead grow stronger. 9/11 acted as a real eye opener for me as I witnessed fearlessness and nobility from everyday citizens and I aspired to possess the heroism they had showed that we all have inside.

As the years carried on, I had grown up within an America at war, a war that cannot be defined but had a clear enemy. We were and still are at war against terrorists whose goal is to destroy our way of life and our most sacred beliefs. Every time I would turn on the TV, or read an article online, there would always be a a story on the conflict raging overseas, and at the end of each story, there would be a count of the deaths that climbed every single day of the brave men and woman who had sacrificed their lives for ours. We are strangers to them, yet they were willing to lay down their lives for us. Thinking about that, a flow of emotion overcame me, and at that moment, I had a realization that lead me to understand my path. This realization was this sudden innate feeling that I must protect people who can not protect themselves, regardless of what name they call God; I felt as though it was my responsibility as a human being to potentially sacrifice myself for the good of mankind.

I then realized I must tell my parents of this epiphany. I was more than excited to share this news with them hoping they would feel the same way. My enthusiasm was short lived, however, as I did not get the reaction I wanted; instead I got the reaction from a set of parents whose only child just told them that he’s joining the Army. But at any rate, we sat and talked for a long while about this decision I had made. They continuously battered me with questions and I gave them continuous answers pertaining to my need to protect a countless number of times. My mother then asked me what would happen if I were to lose a limb, or several, or what if I came home with the PTSD. She seemed very distraught and concerned. I had not thought of this possibility before, and this possibility shocked me. After a few moments, I ended up telling my her this: “Mom, families are being destroyed, and men are dying, as well as woman and children. I must attempt to crush this evil at all costs even if it means I come home injured or hurt. But no matter what happens to me, God willing, we will climb over any mountain that comes our way, together.” She solemnly accepted this answer, and understood that I must do what I need to do.

There is a quote that came from an unknown source that gives me motivation for my future and it reads, “Dear child, evil will come for you tomorrow, and when it does, run to the men carrying the weak and crushing the vile, for there is safety beside these lions.” I aspire to be one of those lions. Thank you.

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Why I’ve chosen to enlist